Chagrin River Watershed Partners restored a wetland and two streams in 2017, partnering with Cleveland Metroparks at Manakiki Golf Course in the City of Willoughby Hills and the City of Wickliffe at Green Ridge Golf Course to demonstrate how recreation and restoration go hand in hand. We received $178,000 in funding from the USEPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to improve water quality in the Deer Creek/Gully Brook watershed, which drains to the Chagrin River. By reducing flooding and erosion issues, this project not only improves water quality and habitat, but leads to less maintenance issues at the golf course. This means more enjoyable playtime for everyone!

Manakiki Golf Course Wetland and Stream Restoration

The 40,000-square foot pond at Cleveland Metroparks Manakiki Golf Course was originally created by damming Gully Brook. Over time the pond trapped excessive sediment and reduced the pond’s water storage capacity. The pond flooded part of the golf course during heavy rain events unless the pond outlet was opened by maintenance staff beforehand. The stream was culverted downstream of the pond and disconnected from its former floodplain, leading to channel widening and severely eroding banks. To restore this area to a more natural, self-regulating hydrology, Chagrin River Watershed Partners hired a contractor to strategically excavate and grade the pond and streambanks, install bioengineered bank treatments, construct pool-riffle habitat in the stream, and heavily plant the area with native plants.  
 
The former pond, now a wetland, has multiple zones including a wetland edge along the perimeter planted with various native sedges, rushes, and forbs; transition zones; and deep-water pool areas. A small channel meanders through the wetland complex and flows to the old pond outlet that was modified to allow for permanent flow. The contractor planted native seed mix and plugs throughout the wetland complex. These plants filter out nutrients and sediment and provide food and habitat for songbirds, aquatic invertebrates, and pollinators like bees and butterflies. The restored wetland provides increased water storage capacity and alleviates flooding on the course. 
 
Downstream of the wetland, water flows out of a culvert into a small tributary to Gully Brook/Deer Creek. The contractor restored pool-riffle morphology in a 160-foot section of the stream to control channel scouring and widening and enhance aquatic habitat for macroinvertebrates. The rock riffles increase the amount of oxygen in the water, which is needed for healthy fish and macroinvertebrate habitat. The riffles were designed to reduce the channel grade downstream of the culvert and gradually transition the restored stream to the point where the stream grade was already stable. The contractor reconnected the stream to its adjacent floodplain by grading the banks to reduce the volume and erosive velocity of water moving through the channel and support the native plant communities planted to stabilize the banks. 
 
This graphic visualization shows the expected outcome of the wetland restoration project as native vegetation matures.
   
Before: severe streambank erosion and poor floodplain access After: natural channel design with contoured banks,
in-stream grade control riffles, and riparian plantings

Green Ridge Golf Course Stream Restoration

A headwater tributary to Deer Creek at Green Ridge Golf Course suffered from large volumes of urban stormwater runoff that contributed to severe erosion of the banks and excessive sediment transport downstream. Concrete blocks placed in the stream to control erosion increased the velocity of the water in the stream channel, causing further scour, erosion and channel instability downstream. The short roots of the turfgrass lining the streambank could not adequately hold the soil in place to prevent erosion and maintain soil stability during high stream flows. To reduce erosion and excessive downstream sediment transport, Chagrin River Watershed Partners hired a contractor who used a “soft” bioengineered approach to restore 480 linear feet of degraded streambank and improve habitat. 
 
The contractor excavated the floodplain area adjacent to the stream, graded the steep banks to a gentler slope, installed in-stream grade control riffles, restored sinuosity, and planted native plants on the streambanks  to reduce the velocity and erosive force of water in the channel. The rock riffle step structures established a stable, more natural gradient that protect the streambanks during high flow events and ensure the long-term stability of the channel. The contractor planted native trees, grasses, and flowering perennials on the streambanks using a temporary biodegradable erosion control blanket to provide bank protection until vegetation is well-established. These native plants provide wildlife habitat and hold the soil in place with their long roots that go deep in the soil and lock into the banks, providing natural, long-term, low-maintenance stabilization.
 
Before: Incised streambank with concrete blocks and poor riparian cover After: Streambank stabilized using natural bio-engineering approach
 

Chagrin River Watershed Partners, Inc. received financial support in the amount of $178,479 from the U.S. EPA through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to complete this project.